I’m reading a great book right now. Great writing, great story, great woman.

(I’ll eventually review her book so I don’t want to mention who it is at this time.  I’ve been a fangirl for 5+ years.  Leaving her identity out because it’s not the point).

She’s white. She’s a stay-at-home Mommy.  She’s a writer.  A good writer.   Like so many of the blogs I read, she bears those three traits.

I have no problems with white, writer, stay-at-home Mommies.  None at all.  I’d be amiss not to point out how deeply I’ve been blessed by all the bloggers who fit in this category.  So. so. many.

The problem for me is, I don’t fit any of those categories.  I’m biracial.  I work out of the house full-time.  I’m not a writer by trade, I’m a communicator who enjoys blogging online.

I don’t see enough of me-ish online.  I don’t get enough of folks who look like me, or work like me, or think like me to NOT feel I’m doing life all wrong.  Too little of my real life resembles the aforementioned categories.

I get stuck in the comparison game. i.e. “She stared at her baby & prayed for 2 hours each day while nursing.  I mostly ignored my babies while they nursed & watched Seinfeld re-runs.”

When anyone doesn’t see of themselves-ish in major conferences, or media, or magazine covers one begins to feel their life (hair, body, skin color, relationship status, etc.) -as is- is wrong. wrong. wrong.

I’m no different than the average black woman, I suppose…trying to find myself in between those stories and…..not.

My house is actually messy.  My marriage is actually messy.  I’m a good Mom who really struggles with enjoying parenting & feels like a bad Mom…a lot.  Not a good Mom pretending to be a bad Mom because apparently that’s a thing now.  There are deep and profoundly important theological issues I think about and would love to write about but can’t create brain space for.  I’m awash in -it seems- crisis after crisis.

As for yoke-fellows…I’m not looking hard enough first off.  I realized this about a year ago when I created two new Twitter lists to begin my journey:  1). Black Christian Bloggers 2).  Women of Color Bloggers.

That has been a GREAT way for me to lend intentionality to who and what I’m reading.  (Though, to be honest, I’ve been in inner turmoil for the past 4 months and haven’t read much of anything).  But when I do read black women, who work full-time or mother full-time, or navigate messy marriages and homes and people and families, I breathe a little easier.  I see myself-ish & my soul fills a little more.

////

I have a Godfather.   The other day he said, “where are your black people, Grace?”  I said, “I know. I know.”  He said, “it’s been two years.”  Yep.  He’s right.  It’s been two years & I’m dying a little inside I think.

We talked about how my life dynamic has continued to move away from more interactions with my black friends and peers to less and less.  When I worked for InterVarsity my primary position was to step on college campuses and start new campus groups with black students.  Besides the near constant contact with my students I got to invest in and be invested by black staff from all over the U.S.  But all that was two years ago.

421058_10100677758523402_1679348275_nWhen they were my everyday.  I miss them.

In the meantime, I live in a white neighborhood, in a not-very-diverse Mid-western town, I’m married to a white dude, I go to a white church & I work with all white people.  God bless my neighborhood, my husband, my church, my office.  God bless each and every one.  The problem is not too many white people per se, it’s when I’m not intentional enough to maintain and develop my black friendships which so easily get pushed and pressed out to the furthest periphery.

////

The other day, I posted on Facebook about three of my former InterVarsity students, Meshell, Tia & Patrice.  They’ve all 3 invested so deeply in me in the past few months with prayers and encouragement, challenges & accountability.  They’ve all said in one way or another they fear they’ve been too hard on me.  I understand this given I was their InterVarsity staff worker/mentor/discipler.  Sometimes switching those roles even a decade later can be jarring. Yet, I told them, “No! I need YOU to do this.  I need YOU to say these things.”  Honestly? I haven’t wanted to hear it from anyone but my black friends & my two biracial besties.

1521571_10101920212430812_60634776_nTia, Patrice & I.

It’s hard to explain without sounding like a total racist asshat, yet it’s true.  I’ve been through a certain type of personal hell in the last 4 months that I’ve been too fearful no one will understand enough to offer empathy.  I’ve let others in, writing emails and asking for prayers in private facebook groups and such, but I’ve also been more guarded than ever before.

59_526856278752_2562_nTia, Meshell & I all the way back in 2004.

In part, I’ve rarely been so consistently angry.  Even those close to me don’t exactly know how to deal with the gargantuan levels of anger bubbling under the surface and how can they when I don’t either?  So, I’ve closed myself off a little bit.  Not everyone is going to understand what I’m going through any old ways.  That’s what I used to think in my naivete…that if I just kept talking or writing eventually people fully understand, racing to offer compassion and hugs.  Some do.  Most don’t.

////

I’ve struggled to post here.  I can’t possibly pull together a post about what I’m into or anything that could be potentially construed as happy.  I give myself an extremely short leash for fakery.  I throw on the make-up and killer heels & do it up big for Intstagram but even my rapid plunge into hair and makeup as of late is another place to hide.  It’s fun, it passes the time, it’s harmless.  It’s not drugs. It’s not alcohol, it’s makeup (and I refuse to apologize for it).  The makeup has become the words of expression I’m grasping for.

I’m far too close to the trauma of the past 4 months to begin writing about it so I keep writing around the edges, not giving away too much -hopefully- but trying to remain present.

I don’t want to be ‘that black blogger’ who disappeared under the weight of it all.  Where does that leave the ones who look to my voice for the very things I’m looking for others to be for me?

Someone looking like me-ish.

Someone fighting her demons.

Someone fighting for faith, asking the hard questions.

Someone not all-the-way given up.

Someone unafraid to confront racism & sexism.

Someone who’s raging, angry about marriage, parenting & domesticity.

Someone who’s life can’t get neatly tied up in a bow because her passions (black people) and her concerns (racism, poverty) aren’t trendy….or whatever.

Lord willing, I won’t let this place become a ghost town while I’m still alive because that will -likely- mean I’ve given up on so many of the things that matter to me.

I write to make sense of the world, as the old famous quote goes.  I share what I write to make sense of hope.

If I didn’t have hope that I could still somehow, make a difference in someone’s life I’d pack my proverbial bloggerly bags.

My little writerly efforts are proof I’m still here.

God has given me-ish another day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. kathleen laurie says:

    I’m not a stay at home mom, I work shift work at a plant – and I’m not a “writer”, but I do write sometimes – I’m not black, but I’ve been what american culture labels “white trash” most of my life, does that count?

    anyway, I love your writing – you can check mine out if you want, I think we’re a little same-ish ;)
    brokenpraisesongs.tumblr.com

  2. Me too, Grace. Me too. I’m constantly asking myself, “do I have a complex because I’m always looking for someone like me?”

  3. Oh my gosh! Thank you so much Grace. This post was such a blessing. You said exactly what I have been feeling and thinking the past year. I am praying for you my sister in christ!

  4. Rebekah Gilbert says:

    Oh, Grace. I’m a white, stay-at-home mom, but your words look more like me than anybody else out there writing right now. I’m thankful for you and the heart you’re fighting to share here. Your words give me hope that there’s beauty in and from the ashes.

  5. Well Grace, I am a little like ‘Kathleen’. I am, however, a stay-at-home woman. I’ve raised two white-as-Wonder-bread kids. I am a whitey-white myself. I am what others would consider close to “white trash”. I write, but only in ‘comments’ to blogs and in my personal journals. I have one specifically for the gritty stuff. But I am SO GLAD you’re still here! So glad! I read your writings with great anticipation of what you will say next. You give truth straight-up and I admire that. You’re not one of those happy-clappy-all-is-well Christian ladies that I have grown so weary of. Life is hard. “Shit happens”, to quote Forest Gump. And we need honest voices to express that. I find what I’m looking for….in YOUR posts!!! I pray for you, Grace, to find those who look and think and express like you. I understand the need.

  6. I’ve been noticing this, too. Changing the narrative on culture-shaping is so much easier said than done. As believers, we have a long way to go before we can claim to be diversely influential. I especially wonder why Christian publishers keep consistently picking up authors in the trend you describe above. Not that said authors shouldn’t be published but more that publishers need to branch out. Thank you for staying here in the midst of life challenges and for pressing in on the hard questions.

    • Yeah, I feel you on the publishing tip, but I also wonder if there’s not a lot of minorities trying to go the “traditional” publishing route (I really have no clue). I’m trying to go that route but i have also yet to turn in a proposal or query…so no one to blame but me on that tip!! But yeah, I feel you, I want myself and other minorites to feel unafraid to step forward iwth big dreams & ideas…or ANYONE really who feels they can’t be involved in the world of writing for influence for whatever reason. Good points here, Jamie! xo

  7. I have those same sentiments you described at the top– There is fantabulous content out there, but rarely are they written by those who look like “me-ish” . I’ve been trying to pinpoint exactly why this is important to me and have been struggling to name it. Inspiration hit as I read your words today–there’s is an Elijah-like complex for me. I feel somewhat alone. Yes my mothering, wife life, spirituality, etnicity have similarities to many beautiful people, but there’s something missing in the deeper connection when they can’t identify with ALL of me….

    Keep writing. I appreciate your fresh honesty and your straight-up-ness in sharing your story. That’s inspiring for me as I tell mine. Keep on keepin on, Grace! One moment at a time, trusting Jesus all the way. I’ve been praying for you daily ;)

    • yeah, I think you pinpointed it, it’s feeling something is missing, but a big something…and then feeling like you don’t want to dwell on it, but then feeling like you need to, etc. etc. It’s a crazy cycle for me sometimes! Thanks so so so much for your encouragement & prayers and hope. It’s SO meaningful. <3 xoxo

  8. Micha Boyett says:

    Grace, I’m so grateful to run in the same circles as you, and to consistently be reminded of your perspective in this world. I’ve wondered so many times how you feel to be in our little blogging subculture (clique?) that feels so non-diverse. And I think your voice within that subculture is so so so important, even though it must be lonely. Thank you for being brave and being among a lot of people who don’t necessarily look like you or understand your perspective. Saying a prayer right now for some sort of path for you to find a community of people “looking like you-ish.” :) Love.

  9. Songine' Clarke says:

    “The problem is not too many white people per se, it’s when I’m not intentional enough to maintain and develop my black friendships which so easily get pushed and pressed out to the furthest periphery.”

    I definitely feel you there, Grace! With going to a majority white church and working with all white people, I love them all, but sometimes I neglect my black friends, and sometimes I do wonder if I am just looking for somebody like me that not only looks like me, but has some of the same quirky, nerdy interest like me.

  10. A Place to Reside says:

    Thinking of you during this time. And thankful for you and your honest (and honesty-provoking) words.

  11. Briana Meade says:

    This hit me. hard. I’m white and I love you and I feel. exactly. the same way. You have a way of transcending boundaries Grace. You have to give yourself more credit, because God is using you in mighty ways.

  12. “The problem for me is, I don’t fit any of those categories. I’m biracial. I work out of the house full-time. I’m not a writer by trade, I’m a communicator who enjoys blogging online.” <— It's like I could have written this word for word.

    The first part of your post especially resonated with me. So so so so much. You're like my fairy blogmother! And I think there are countless other WOC/Biracial/black women of faith who look at you the same. It's funny because offline, my friendships/community/family is very diverse and yet online I struggle to find that same diversity. I look to you SO much as a fellow biracial women of faith! I appreciate your voice more than you know!

    • Ha! Fairy blogmother! that’s a new one & it’s FABULOUS. ahahaha =) Anyway, yes, the diversity online for me is getting more and more crucial and I want to do so much better with both featuring & sharing my black bro’s & sis’s in my space!! Thank you so much for your support & friendship. It’d be awesome to meet you some day!!

  13. AbbieWatters says:

    I encourage you to make contact with Margaret Aymer Oget – @mayog on Twitter. She is a 40-something black woman, married to a white man. They have just recently adopted a bi-racial baby. She is a seminary professor of New Testament. She is also one of the most “together” people I know, who seems to be able to function comfortably in both the white world as a wife and mother, and in the black world as a professor in a traditionally black seminary. I’m praying for you.

  14. So many of us connect with so many of your words one way
    Or another. Thanks for continuing to fight & blog.
    We love you, well some of us & you are making
    A difference in our lives. So THANK YOU!

  15. I just found you and I’m so glad I did. As a white girl, I intentionally chose to attend a predominantly Black seminary in NYC. I would never presume that my experience there as a minority even comes close to approximating the everyday experiences of Blacks or Native Americans or any minority in America. But I do know that it’s opening my mind a lot more than NOT doing it would. No one can possibly know what it’s like to be you…which is why you need to write about it!!

  16. Anjanette says:

    I just found you through Leigh Kramer’s blog. I’m a 7, so we have something big in common there! I’ll definitely be following you! It makes my heart hurt to see people feel outside-of-community in any way. I can literally only imagine. My skin and hair are so European that I almost want to pay for one of those DNA tests so I can discover some lost ancestral treasure from ANYWHERE other than Great Britain. ;) (just kidding – I actually have a fair bit of Czech thrown in there! Wohoo EASTERN Western Europe!) Not that it would matter. In any case, I am thrilled to see awesome bloggers who don’t look like me. I want to see more of you because I want YOU to see more of you! I really do feel the injustice for you as much as I can. :( So…. here’s my list of favorite bloggy friends who think like you and look like you-ish. ;)

    http://www.curlsafari.com/
    http://stiversfamily.wordpress.com/ (one of my IRL best friends)
    http://www.preslaysa.com/
    http://www.thebeautifulproject.org/home/ (another IRL friend)
    http://www.homemakingorganized.com/ (you’ll never see photos of her, but Kemi is black – and has a multi-racial adopted daughter!!)
    https://www.youtube.com/user/CherishMyDaughter <— she has a blog, but her YouTube channel is where it's at. She talks about a lot more than hair, and I love her.

    Ok, there you go. I wish my list were so much longer!!

  17. Hi Grace. I appreciate this post so much. I particularly resonated with this piece: “The problem is not too many white people per se, it’s when I’m not
    intentional enough to maintain and develop my black friendships which so easily get pushed and pressed out to the furthest periphery.”

    A couple of years ago, my husband, who is white Latino, and I recognized that our life did not include enough Latinos. Billy felt similarly in that he had no problem with our white American friends and he was grateful for his work and church, etc, etc. But he was feeling tense and constantly like he wasn’t fitting in. He felt exhausted from always living in another cultural context. We now attend a Latino church, and the difference in his life is noticeable to me.

    I hope you are encouraged during this difficult season to keep writing and all that good stuff. Your words bless others! (If you’re interested, I wrote a little more about our identity conversations here: http://www.alifewithsubtitles.com/2012/09/so-youre-always-going-to-be-latino.html)

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  1. […] I knew, instinctively knew if I didn’t get around my people —-in a healthy context, I would shrivel & die.  Shrivel. Die. Rinse. Repeat.  Though I’ve been more intentional in other ways too. […]

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